Karnataka polls will open door for Congress in 2024 LS elections: Shivakumar

He asserted that the Modi factor would not work in the southern State, where people are purely focused on local and developmental issues

DK Shivakumar, Congress, Karnataka polls
In an interview with PTI, he sounded upbeat about the party’s prospects in the May 10 polls to the 224-member Assembly, saying it would win 141 seats. File photo: Twitter/DK Shivakumar

The outcome of the coming Assembly polls in Karnataka will herald a beginning and open the door for the Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, says the party’s State unit chief DK Shivakumar.

In an interview with PTI, he sounded upbeat about the party’s prospects in the May 10 polls to the 224-member Assembly, saying it would win 141 seats.

‘Modi factor will not work, people focused on development issues’

The ruling BJP was deploying its entire central leadership for campaigning in the State out of fear of losing the May 10 polls, he said, and asserted that the Modi factor would not work in the southern State, where people are purely focused on local and developmental issues.

Watch | DK Shivakumar: Every wall in Karnataka govt offices knows about corruption

Shivakumar said there was no tussle between him and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah over the Chief Minister’s post, and that the only aim now was to defeat the BJP at the hustings and ensure that the Congress came to power.

In the event of the party winning, the high command, “by its own electoral process,” will take a call on the CM, he said. Siddaramaiah had also made a similar statement last week in an interview to PTI.

The 60-year-old Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were “disturbed” by the poll “guarantees” announced by his party as “they could not deliver what they promised”.

Following are the excerpts from the interview:

Q. Whether the Assembly polls are only on local issues or there is also going to be a Modi versus Rahul contest?

A. No, it is in no way connected to Modi or any other national leaders, it is connected to the administration of Karnataka, how the Karnataka government has failed, what the Congress party can do. This is a very peace-loving state, people of Karnataka are highly mature. Karnataka is the gateway for the economic development of this country. They (BJP) are raising emotional issues; we want to concentrate on development issues. Price rise is affecting every common man, we want to help them out.

For three-and-a-half years, there was BJP’s “double-engine” government, which has completely failed. There was the Global Investors’ Meet, government claimed there were investment proposals worth 10 lakh crore, but in places where the BJP is strong, like Malnad or the coastal region, not even a single investor has gone to create jobs; unemployment is high.

Also read: Surveys say Congress will win 140+ seats in Karnataka polls: DK Shivakumar

Karnataka is also the knowledge-capital, and after unwarranted emotive issues such as hijab and halal played out, I think people are afraid. Such things are creating problems for the development of the state.

Q. On the importance of the Karnataka election outcome for the revival of the Congress party nationally.

A. Definitely it will open the doors, it is the beginning. It will be the beginning for the unity at the national level, and for the Congress party for 2024. Karnataka people will give a message to the country. Earlier also at the time of Devraj Urs (former CM), when the Janata Party was in power at the national level, Karnataka had opened the door for the Congress, now again Karnataka will play its role.

Q. On Congress’ prospects in the polls.

A. I still stand by number 141, on the basis of surveys, my big political experience – as I have been in the Assembly for the last 35 years, I have contested eight elections, lost one, won in seven – I know political arithmetic and social engineering. We will get through with a big number.

Q. On the tussle between him and Siddaramaiah for the CM’s post.

A. Where is the tussle? You show me one example, one incident, one small difference in anything. I haven’t cried like (BJP leader BS) Yediyurappa did for the post. We have stood united, we have worked unitedly, we are fighting unitedly. Our main aim is to see to it that the BJP is defeated and the Congress party comes to power.

Q. On whether this is the best chance for him to become the CM, since he is the KPCC President.

A. It is not me which is the issue today, it is the Congress party. The Congress party has to come to power. The Chief Minister will be decided after the election by the Congress party high command by its own electoral process.

Q. On PM Narendra Modi criticising the Congress on its poll guarantees, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying it will require one lakh crore for their implementation every year.

A. Prime Minister and Finance Minister are very much disturbed, because they could not deliver what they promised. You take their earlier manifesto, they had promised ten hours of power, why didn’t they give? They had promised one lakh loan waiver to the farmers, they had promised 2 crore jobs, they had promised to double the (farm) income, they could not do it.

Also read: Shettar-Savadi effect will get Congress 150 seats: D K Shivakumar

Congress guarantees are not like that. We stand by whatever we promise, we are in the land of Basavanna (12th century social reformer), we will deliver whatever we have said.

Q. On the entire BJP leadership being deployed in Karnataka for campaigning.

A. They are in fear, they have lost their face. Under them, Karnataka has become the corruption capital of the country. PayCM, PayMinister, every post or position in Karnataka is up for sale. Media has come out with a rate card, like a hotel menu card, regarding the money to be paid for appointments to various government posts like ACP, Circle Inspector, Tahsildar, among others. Everything is for sale, that is the state of affairs.

Q. On the impact of “Modi factor and Modi magic” in this election.

A. Nothing will work, no central leaders’ magic will work. Only if you have filled the stomach (of the people), if you have given good governance, people will think about you, nothing else will work. In Tamil Nadu or Kerala or West Bengal, where did it (Modi factor) work? It did not work; the same thing will happen here too.

(With agency inputs)